The federal government has expressed concern over the continued closure of shops owned by Nigerians in Ghana, two weeks after President Koffi Nana-Akudo gave an order that they be reopened.
Abike Dabiri-Erewa, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora, said this in Abuja, when she played host to the National Association of Nigerian Traders (NANTS) led by its President, Ken Ukuoha.
Ukuoha led the Nigerian and Ghanaian Chapters of the Union to present a petition over the continuous closure of their shops to President Mohammadu Buhari through the Anime’s Office.
Recall that Nigerian traders in Ghana have been shut out of their business premises in pursuance of the eviction order issued to them and dated 27th July 2018.
The Ghanaian authority, said to be was demanding that traders must have one million dollars as minimum foreign investment capital to do business in Ghana as stipulated by its Ministry of Trade and Industry (GIPC) Act, 2013.
Dabiri expressed worry that in spite of the promise by the Ghanian president to Buhari, those shops have remained unopened, after the September 27 dateline .
She said, ” I am just going to start by appealing to you, I know it is painful , frustrating and emotional. In fact, it is deep but I just urged you all to remain calm.”
She said, ‘I am surprised that after the announcement of President of Ghana on the reopening of the locked shops, they still remained under lock up till now.
“The president of Ghana paid a courtesy call on our president during the UN General Assembly in New York and he assured him that Nigerian traders were not being targeted”
According to her, “When they said foreigners, he assured that Nigerians were not the target; sadly, the September 27, dateline has elapsed I am very surprised that as at today over 400 shops are still under lock in Ghana.”
Dabiri-Erewa expressed dismay that Ghanaian president yet to honour his promise to reopen the closed shops 13 days after.
The presidential aide promised to convey the union’s message to the president who he said was the Chairman of the ECOWAS about what their petition.
She said that President Buhari as the ECOWAS chairman would ensure that the matter is resolved once and for all
She urged the traders not to take laws into their hands no matter how provocative the situation may but to remain calm
“I am sure that the matter will be resolved between the two presidents and will be treated as ECOWAS matter.
“I know it is not only Nigerians that are affected but other ECOWAS nationals as well but I know that Nigerians are the largest.
“On behalf of the government I advised and urge to remain calm because this is an ECOWAS matter and we cannot be doing this to ourselves,” she said.
While noting that millions of Ghanaian traders in Nigeria were treated as brothers she appealed to the union not to even think about retaliation but rather be calm and obey their laws.
“It is only a matter of time when this would resolved, it is a matter of days these long faces would soon smile because President Buhari would surely intervene,” she assured them.
Ukuoha said that in 2018, the Ministry of Trade and Industry (GIPC) and Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA) in a joint operation established a taskforce with specific mandate to clamp down on Nigerian traders.
He said that this had eventually resulted in the ongoing closure of over 400 Nigerian Traders’ shops in Kumasi and the Ashanti region of Ghana.
“We are deeply worried with the high level of government complicity and state sponsored incitement and xenophobic attacks on Nigerians on the street of Ghana.
“We can provide evidence based on information in video clips and recorded attacks leaving countless Nigerian traders at various hospitals.
He noted with concern that Ghanaian security continually expressed helplessness by turning their eyes the other way, when Ghanaian hired thugs and criminals unleash mayhem on Nigerians, molesting and looting their goods and properties.
He said among NANTs demand, is the immediate reopening of the over 400 Nigerian owned locked shops in Ghana, as well as the immediate return of all seized goods.
He said the government should undertake to protect and provide security for all Nigerian traders and families and be held accountable for any ill treatment on Nigerian traders, or Nigerian citizens residing in Ghana.
Nigerians should not be subject to arbitrary and punitive taxation. GIPC Act should not be applied on Nigerian traders as we are not foreigners in Ghana but bonafide community citizens under ECOWAS Law, he stated.